The Adjei Bi-monthly(ish)
Itís great to be able to tell you that we still have the same 4 girls in El Alfarero as we did last time we wrote. Itís true that since then we have had some coming and going since then, but we are seeing progress in Heidy, Isabel, Monica and Carola. At New Year we were able to have the girls round to our house for a couple of nights and to take them out into town for a meal and to see the Christmas lights - even at times like that there can be difficulties with the girls getting jealous or upset with each other, but all in all I think they enjoyed themselves... at least if the number of times they have asked to come to our house again since then is anything to go by!
Part of our work with the girls involves getting their papers in order. Of the 4 girls in the home just now only Monica has a birth certificate and since getting papers in order can be a time-consuming and costly business, there is a lot to be done. Heidy and Carola need their paperwork in order so that they can be properly registered in school and avoid problems with the High School Diplomas that they are working towards. Isabelís need is more pressing. She has a son currently living in a childrenís home in the city who we hope to be able to bring to El Alfarero to be with her. However, her lack of papers is complicating the situation and we have recently learnt that we need to move quickly to avoid Jose Manual being listed as available for adoption.
Last week brought a reminder of the urgency of the reaching out to the street kids. Three of the kids with whom we work died: a girl, about 17 died of tuberculosis, one young lad of about 20 committed suicide, and a baby died of malnutrition and neglect. The lad who killed himself (nicknamed El Chico) was the father of Isabelís child. (The Isabel from El Alfarero.) They had lived on the streets as a couple for years during which time he had subjected Isabel to endless brutality and had crushed her personality with his cruel domination. Right up until last week he cast a shadow over her life with the fear that one day she would meet him again - perhaps on the bus going into town, or in one of the cityís markets. The day before we heard of his death, Larry from our team was commenting on how different Isabel is now, a year after leaving behind that relationship and the streets, and how her character has been transformed. So El Chicoís death has left us with mixed feelings - the tragedy of his wasted and lost life, and the relief that he can never harm Isabel again.
Although some people working for the authorities here have a genuine desire to help people, sometimes we are angered by the lack of understanding of the street kids situation and at the injustices that are perpetrated. One example of that is how just a couple of days ago a social worker friend of ours was mocked and called the equivalent of ďchickenĒ by the authorities for not being willing to just make up some dirt on a case that would make it easier for someone to have a child taken away from them. Another example involves the baby who died last week.... He had been taken into a childrenís home together with an older sister through members of our team. His sister was being abused, with their mother's knowledge, and he was being badly neglected whilst on the streets. The team had spoken to the authorities about their family situation and the danger these 2 children were in. However, just a few weeks after managing to get these two children into a home and safety they were back with their mother again. It seemed to have slipped the authorities attention that a children's home might be a little safer than no home at all.
Since we last wrote we have had a general election here and our new president - our first indigenous president (in 181 years of independence in a country with a 65% indigenous population) - won by a landslide. His first moves include halving his and his cabinetís salaries and putting a coca farmer in charge of their anti-drug policy.... Iím not sure what conclusions you would draw from either of those decisions, but it looks like heís going to keep things interesting anyway!
Church and First Contacts
In January we finally had to move out of the building we had been using for our church meetings and for the medical post and drop-in projects, and so far we still havenít found anywhere else we can use. The First Contacts team have taken advantage of this situation to investigate other areas of the city where they have managed to get to know other groups of street kids and the experience has led them to re-evaluate whether the best way forward is to keep working as a mobile team rather than having a fixed base in town. The idea is to try to run a mobile medical post that can carry the team members around the city and reach out to a wider group of street kids. Since all this has happened we have already had a couple of good contacts from groups that may be able to ship out a suitable vehicle to us.
Whilst that change has been quite positive from the point of view of street work it means that as a church we donít have anywhere in town where we can meet which makes it very difficult for some people to come. We are now meeting in Casa Alfa on Sundays which has been quite a nice place to meet but the house is quite far out of the centre of town. So we have been looking for somewhere more central to rent just for our meetings, but as yet we havenít been able to find anything. Please pray for us to find the best place for us to meet.
Iíd also like to ask you to pray for a couple of the guys whoíve been part of our church over this last year. They are Luis Alberto and Adhemar. Luis Alberto you may remember was baptized just over a year ago and has been doing really well holding down his first real job for about 4 months now. Adhemar is the father of Lilianaís children and has also been working over the last few months. However both of these guys have been struggling recently with drink problems from their previous lives resurfacing. Please pray that they will be strengthened and will strengthen themselves in God.
Family & Friends
Last time we wrote to you about two family friends who were seriously ill. Rob had suffered a car accident and was having the bones in his face reconstructed. He and his family are now back in the United States where specialists have had to redo some of the work on his face that the surgeons here had done. Please continue to pray for Robís full recovery. As a family we really miss them. Sarah and the girls used to see Mary Lea and her children almost every day.
Cesar seems to have responded well to his radiotherapy treatment and is doing very well. Thank you very much for your prayers for both of these guys and their families. God has been good to us and to them.
Last Saturday, Jasmine and Gaby were flower girls at Larry and Patty's wedding. Larry works in First Contacts and with the church and is very popular with our 2 girls. So there was great excitement as the day drew nearer and the girls went through fittings for their dresses and bought new sandals, had their hair done, etc... In the end it was a lovely wedding and the girls performed beautifully!
With lots of love,
David, Sarah, Jasmine & Gaby.